Imagine a "Vikings in America" alternate history, but with a fantasy core. The guns, the endless plains, the cardgames, hats, buffalo; all of that is present, but with no trace of Christianity or real historical events. Instead the towns have temples for the Nordic gods. Those skilled in Seidh sorcery wander from town to town, offering their services. The Runesages of the great colleges study and decipher the runic script, using their knowledge to craft enchantments and cast spells. The skalds tell tales of the fastest shooters, and the rugged frontiersmen of their new world.
Which they share with countless native tribes, who worship their ancestors, the land, and their guardian spirits. The Dwarves live in their mysterious keeps beneath the mountains, working away at their masterwork craftsmanship in solitude. The Elves act as guardians of their mythical forests, sharing wisdom and protection to those they deem worthy. Far to the south live the Aztlan, practicing their blood magic and rituals to appease their Pantheon. In the frozen north, the Jötunn frost giants continually raid the inhabited lands below.
Basically, the Heathen Western is a mix between a late 19th century level of technology, and an expansive fantasy realm based on the mythology of the Old Norse and Native Americans.
- 1 The Setting
- 1.1 Timeline
- 1.2 Nyrheim
- 1.3 Races
- 2 The System
- 2.1 Core Mechanic
- 2.2 Character Creation
- 2.3 Attributes
- 2.4 Skills
- 2.5 Abilities
- 2.6 Magic
- 2.7 Combat
- 2.8 Critical Hits
- 3 Development
The settlers of the Old World first made landfall on the coasts of Fundrfyrstr, and they found the region already inhabited by the native Skræling. While there was initially conflict, the two peoples have learned to coexist. Being the first area settled, it is the most developed. Though many of lush green forests remain, with their many dangers still lurking in their dark depth. The Dwarves make their homes on and below the mountains, which are rich in many raw resources. Dwarven smiths shared some of their knowledge with the settlers, passing on the gift of gunpowder.
To the north of Fundrfyrstr lies the great tundras of Sutvollr. The harsh landscape is buried in snow during the long winters, making the area unappealing to all but the most rugged of settlers. However, plentiful precious metals draw swarms of prospectors to the region during the brief summer months.
Farther North still you will find the frozen wasteland of Nyrjötunheim, a vast expanse of land that remains largely unexplored. The monstrous frost giants, the Jötunn, call this region home. From here they launch many attacks on the southern lands, raiding and pillaging whatever sign of civilization they can find. Countess exploration and adventuring parties have ventured into the region, though few have ever returned. The land is sparsely by a number of native tribes, who seem wary of outsiders.
To the south of Fundrfyrstr are the swamplands of Náströnd. The outskirts of the many bogs and swamps were settled around the same time as Einnfjall, but few dare to tread deep into the swamps. Many consider them haunted or cursed lands, savage yells and screams can be heard echoing through them in the dark of night.
North of Náströnd and west of Fundrfyrstr is the first frontier of Dyrheim. While its inhabitants would consider the region long since tamed, it still has a reputation for being a rugged wilderness. Some of the most famous frontiersmen hail from the area.
Farther west are the wide open plains of Grassheim. Primarily inhabited by farmers and ranchers spread across their wide ranging homesteads, where the frontier spirit is living strong. The region is also home to vast herds of bison, roaming bandits, and tribes of nomadic plains Skræling.
To the south are the upper reaches of the Aztlan Empire. Their reach once extended much farther north, but these lands were ceded to the settlers after a short but bloody war.
A large portion of these territories were located in the south western corner of the New World, an arid land now known as Sumavollr. The discovery of silver veins across the region have attracted many settlers, as well as many outlaws.
Dividing Nyrheim in two is the massive mountain range of Níðhöggrbein. The Dwarves have a great city here deep under the earth, though few outsiders are given entrance, or even know where it is outside of vague rumor.
Beyond the craggy mountain range rest the sprawling mystical forests of Freyrheim. Visitors must tread carefully, as the forests are guarded by the mysterious Elves. Those who intend harm to the forest, such as hunters, poachers, and loggers should expect retaliation.
Settled between the mountains to the east, forests to the north, and arid desert to the south the Groennvollr valleys can be found. Containing some of the most fertile soils and temperate climates in the New World, the valleys inspired settlers to take the dangerous trek across the continent to make it their home. The area is also the site of some tense relations between the settlers and natives. Skræling tribes make their homes on land rich with gold, which the settlers desire to mine.
The most populous race in the east of the world, the Nords are an industrious people but also given to violence.
The race indigenous to most of the world, the Skrælings are composed of many small nations that range far and wide.
A massive empire in the south and west, with vile gods supported by blood sacrifice.
A dark and ugly race which lives in the roots of the mountains, but they are master craftsmen
Character creation in Heathen Western is done through a classless, point buy system. Players start with 300 Build Points which they are free to distribute as they wish. A set of sample character archetypes are provided to help inspire some character concepts, but players are largely free to make whatever they wish.
While all player characters are largely human, many descend from a bloodline which has mixed with the fantastical races of Nyrheim. Players must pick an ancestry for their character; ranging from Human, Dwarven, Elven, and Jötunn. Each provides some statistical and cosmetic differences.
A key element of Heathen Western is the dilemma system, every character has to take at least one. The represent a core issue of goal your character has, a group has to work together over the course of a campaign to either resolve or simply deal with each others Dilemmas. You can also take an additional Dilemma for +25BP to spend, but of course your character will run into twice as many problems down the line.
Characters all have seven attributes; Agility, Brawn, Fortitude, Guile, Intellect, Reaction, and Vigilance. All characters start off with a score of 10 in each Attribute, roughly human average. Each score above 10 provides a +1 bonus to all checks tied to that Attribute. Increasing the score of an attribute costs 20BP, the cost increasing by 5BP for every 5 score increases. During character creation players may also decide to lower the score of an attribute below 10 up to two times, gaining 10BP for each decrease.
Determines overall hand-eye coordination and body control, dexterous characters will be well balanced and quick on their feet. Agility is critical to ranged combat, and covers skills like acrobatics, stealth, and thievery. From seasoned gunfighters to dashing rogues, high agility is essential for those who do not wish to rely on brute force in combat.
A character’s shear strength, the might of their muscles, and overall physical power. Brawn denotes lifting strength, how hard one can hit with a melee weapon, and plays a part in how much punishment a character can take before going down. Characters with high Brawn are physically fit, tough individuals who’s bad sides you probably would not want to see.
A gauge of physical toughness, ability to withstand damage or injury, and survive in hostile environments. Fortitude mainly influences the body’s ability to endure physical harm, poison, and diseases. A character with high Fortitude could shrug off an attack that would otherwise harm, survive vile poisons, and avoid fatal disease.
A representation of charisma, force of personality, persuasiveness, creativity, and sociability. It is a measure of the strength of a personally, and how it is perceived by others. Essential for skills like deception, persuasion, and seduction. Guile is important for social characters who want to talk their way out of problematic situations.
Measures a character’s base intelligence, education, mental ability, and problem solving skills. Core to Intellect are the knowledge, magical, and a number of utility skills, covering disciplines which require many years of study to learn and master. High Intellect would be desirable to academics, runesages, and anyone who plans on taking a wide variety of skills.
Reflexes, hand-eye coordination, balance, and reaction time of a character. Reaction is important for determining combat order, how difficult of a target you make, actions like riding, and how quick you can draw a bead on your targets. A character with high reaction will be able to quickly judge and respond to any situation.
Describes a character’s metal strength, perception, intuition, and faith. It represents the ability to overcome and keep going when others would accept defeat, to remain calm under extreme pressure, and to resist intimidation or temptation. The willpower defense relies on vigilance, along with skills like perception and investigation.
The derived statistics are secondary characteristics derived from Attribute scores, worn equipment, or from passive abilities. Derived statistics can also be improved directly by spending 5BP to manually increase the value, this can only be done during character creation. They are split into three categories; Condition, Traits, and Defenses.
Conditions are stats which are depleted in combat, Either from enemy attack or used to perform special actions. They can be recovered in a number of ways, but the most effective is usually a full stomach and a good night’s rest.
Traits act as reference statistics, static numbers that are useful to have on hand over the course of a game session. They generally indicate certain limits your character has; such as how fast the can move, how quickly they react, and how easily they can notice something.
Damage is based on bullet caliber, not the gun itself, with each bullet being assigned a die size. You roll one bullet die for every shot you take to determine damage, the number of shots you can fire at once determined by the character's skill and the action of the gun. Shots can also be divided between multiple targets, though this incurs a penalty.
Critical hits work by dealing something called Massive Damage. Which instantly kills lowly NPCs, consider it a head or heartshot. Some large bullets deal massive damage by default, and big critters like a Sasquatch require massive damage to hurt at all.
Heathen Western is still actively in development. Please share any ideas you have in the thread before editing the page.
Lore Work To-Do
- Native Tribes
- Names for just about everything
- A timeline of events from the first settlement up to the "present day" in setting
Crunch Work To-Do
- Melee combat rules
- Suggestions for Abilities
- Suggestions for Spells
- Feedback/commentary/criticism of all the current crunch